Approximately a year-and-a-half after Mike Francesa first announced it was happening, the ESPN 30 For 30 documentary on Mike and the Mad Dog, his legendary sports talk radio show with Chris Russo on New York’s WFAN, is finally nearing its premiere. Originally, the film was set to debut in February this year, but it’s now clear why that didn’t happen. ESPN had a bigger debut in mind.
Mike and the Mad Dog will premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival April 21, under the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival banner featuring new films that take place in the sports world. From the official press release:
“Mike Francesa and Chris Russo’s ‘Mike and the Mad Dog’ radio show ruled afternoon sports talk from the New York studios of WFAN 660 for 19 years—not bad considering they didn’t think they’d last 19 days together. Even though they both brought Long Island accents and encyclopedic sports knowledge to the microphone, they were distinctly different personalities who often clashed on and off the air. But when all was said and done, they changed sports radio forever.”
The documentary is directed by Daniel H. Forer, who helmed a previous 30 For 30 documentary, Free Spirits. That film was about the Spirits of St. Louis basketball team that played after the American Basketball Association was disbanded, and only four ABA clubs merged with the NBA.
Along with the announcement, ESPN also released a trailer for the documentary:
— ESPN Films 30 for 30 (@30for30) March 8, 2017
“It was a two-person show with one man trying to dominate it,” says the New York Daily News‘ Bob Raissman in the film, “which was Francesa.” How did they do a show together for 20 years?
ESPN Films’ Andy Billman talked about the film with Newsday during last weekend’s (March 4) FrancesaCon, where fans got a sneak preview of the documentary.
“I think the big thing that I learned is that you get to know Mike (Francesa) and Chris (Russo) behind the curtain, and I think that’s what fans are wanting. And I think especially with Francesa, he goes into some areas that he probably never goes into. Mike’s not a guy who talks a lot about his personal life, but he gets into it. I think it’s very fascinating.”
By the way, how great is the promotional photo ESPN released for the movie? Did you have any idea Mike Francesa once sported a mustache?
A TV premiere for Mike and the Mad Dog has not yet been announced, but an air date seems likely to occur soon after the Tribeca Film Festival debut. The Tribeca Film Festival runs from April 19-30.